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Houapeu Wins National Scoring Title; Bulls Finishes Second
INDIANAPOLIS—UMBC junior forward Levi Houapeu (
“Obviously it’s quite an accomplishment for both of them, and it’s a credit to their hard work,” head coach Pete Caringi said. “Levi really proved himself as a goal scorer during his junior year, and athletically, I thought he was one of the best players in the country overall. Bulls scored a lot of big goals, and I don’t know if I’ve been around a player that has scored on a consistent basis like he did in September, when he was basically scoring every game.”
The America East Midfielder of the Year, Houapeu scored 43 points on 15 goals and 13 assists, leading all of NCAA Division I with 2.15 points per game. Bulls, the America East Striker of the Year, followed closely with 41 points on 15 goals and 11 helpers for an average of 2.05 points per outing. They were the only players in the country to average more than 2.0 points per contest.
The teammates also tied for fourth in goals per game (0.75), while Houapeu ranked second in assists per game (0.65) and Bulls was 11th (0.55). They were the only players in the America East Conference to achieve double digits in both goals and assists; they led the league in goals per game and ranked 1-2 in helpers.
Eight of Bulls’ 15 goals on the season were game-winners, leading the conference and tying Giuliano Celenza’s school record set in 1999, while Houapeu’s 13 assists tied the America East record and ranked second all-time at UMBC. Bulls also ranked fifth in school history in that category. The pair tied for the sixth-most goals ever scored in a season at UMBC and also ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in points.
The postseason honors poured in for both Retrievers, who were the only unanimous selections to the America East All-Conference First Team. Houapeu was named the ECAC Division I Offensive Player of the Year, and he and Bulls were both tabbed ECAC First-Team All-Stars. A College Soccer News Third-Team All-American, Bulls became the first Retriever since 2001 to earn First-Team All-Northeast Region honors from the NSCAA, while Houapeu was selected to the Second Team.
“I think it’s very, very unique to find two players who are as unselfish as they were this past year,” Caringi said. “They are each other’s biggest supporter. A lot of Bulls’ success was because of how Levi set him up, and vice versa. And I think the chemistry is the key, how they act on and off the field towards each other. When you have two players that are that unselfish and are looking out for the team, the team becomes more important than the individual, and that’s why they had the success they had. It’s a rare quality.”
Behind Bulls and Houapeu, the Retrievers posted one of the most potent offenses in the nation, leading the America East and ranking fifth in the country with 2.15 goals per game, as the duo accounted for nearly 70 percent of UMBC’s 43 goals on the season.
Houapeu is UMBC’s first national leader in scoring in the sport of men’s soccer. Retriever Hall of Fame member Giuliano Celenza finished sixth in the nation in scoring in 1999 and was third in 2000.
UMBC did have a national leader in 1999, as goalkeeper Tom Wunk led the NCAA in goals against average at 0.34 (four goals allowed in 1045 minutes of action).
Picked to finish eighth in the America East preseason poll, UMBC won its first nine games and finished 14-6-0 on the season, advancing to the America East title game as the No. 5 seed before falling to second-seeded Stony Brook, 2-0. Bulls and Houapeu were both selected to the All-Championship Team.